Mint Hill drops opener 6-3, Sweeps Maiden 15-1, 11-1, 7-3 advances to 2nd round

Mint Hill's Sam Kagan at bat. (Ed Berti)
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CJ Brown gets back safely on pick-off attempt. (Ed Berti)
Mint Hill player ready to drive a base hit. (Ed Berti)
Mint Hill player after smacking a double. (Ed Berti)
Shane Russell set in batters box for Mint Hill. (Ed Berti)
Mint Hill runner safe at first base. (Ed Berti)

After winning the final 10-11 ball games in the regular season, the team came out a little flat on a hot night to lose the first game in the best of five series against Maiden 6-3 in the American Legion Area IV Region. The two teams will meet again tonight July 3rd on the road for game two.

Dependable top starter Owen Tappy did not have his best stuff tonight and struggled early in the ball game. However, he is very competitive on the mound and gave it his best effort to keep the contest close.

Ivan Huffman of Maiden connecting on first inning home run. (Ed Berti)

In the first inning, Maiden scored first on a two run homer drilled over the right field fence by Ivan Huffman to give the visitors a 2-0 lead. Mint Hill bounced back scoring a run on a sacrifice fly to center field by Noah Howie scoring Bubba Comer from third base.

In the second frame, Maiden took the lead again scoring one run on three hits and a base on balls to take a 3-1 lead. However, Mint Hill would score two runs of their own when Matt Mangum smacked a double in the left-center field gap, Owen Tappy would follow with a double scoring the runner, then Ben Walton followed with a line drive base hit to center scoring Tappy. So after two innings of play the score was all even at 3-3.

In the third inning, Maiden jumped on Tappy for three additional runs which turned out to be the game winners as both clubs put up goose eggs the rest of the ball game. The usual potent Mint Hill offense was held in check by Maiden lefty hurler Dalton James for most of the contest. However, the team collectively hit many hard drives directly at the defense and could not find many holes which frustrated some of the players.

Baseball is a funny game, you can hit line drives, rockets right at the outfielders and come up empty, while you hit a tapper down the third base line twenty feet and beat out an infield hit, or a little flair over first base. Tonight, was just one of those games where the breaks went all Maiden’s way and they took advantage of their opportunities.

This is a best of five series and we will move on to game two. After the game, the coaches basically said it’s now a four game series and we need to win three out of the next four played.

The team hit the road and crushed Maiden 15-1 in the second game of the series to even things up. In the third ballgame back at Independence High School Stadium the “Boys of Summer” had a repeat of game two with an 11-1 victory on their home field.

On Friday night back on the road the team clinched the series with a three game sweep downing Maiden 7-3 to advance to the second round of the playoffs. They will play the winner of the Burke and Lincoln County game 5 contest on Saturday night July 6th.

The second round will begin on Sunday, July 7th at Independence when Mint Hill will host the winner.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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